Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Monday, September 5, 2011

High Tea, with a decidedly bitter aftertaste

The Reel of the week is 2006's  "Amazing Grace" .The  story takes place in 18th century England and recounts the adult life of William Wilberforce (Iaon Gruffudd) a member of British Parliament who along with his best friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), the youngest Prime Minister in history,who take on the other members of Parliament, who own plantations and slave ship,s to abolish slavery in England.    
They are thwarted at every turn by Wilburforce's illness and the underhanded tricks of the members of Parliament. Defeated again and again, Wilberforce's spirit is crushed and he returns to his home. He meets Barbara Spooner (Ramola Garai) who shares his belief in the inhumanity of slavery, they fall in love and she spurs him on to continue the fight. With the help of abolitionists, his friend the Prime minister and the former slave Olaudah Equiano (Youssou N'Dour), who bought his own freedom and penned his memoirs in a book entitled "The interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano". Wilberforce is reinvigorated to jump back into the fight. Along the way, he meets John Newton (Albert Finney), a former slave ship owner whose conscience , in the form of thousands of the souls of Africa haunting his every waking moment, cause him to renounce slavery and pen the song "Amazing Grace" and dedicate his life to repenting his sins. 
The movie was a bit plodding at times, but overall informative and watchable. Iaon Gruffudd was well cast and likable as was Benedict Cumberbatch.
What I did find rather strange, was the fact that this was a movie about slavery, but the entire movie contained only two black actors and only one had any lines. I think the movie could have really used some of that perspective, which would have balanced the film a bit more.
Also as aside if you enjoy Ioan Gruffudd I highly recommend his "Horatio Hornblower" series, which is out on DVD. It's fascinating series, I was totally hooked. Also Benedict Cumberbatch in "To the ends of the Earth", excellent!

If you are looking for an evening of informative history, I recommend either of these films.

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